Category: Interviews

Spend The Night At The Museum!

It’s Night at the Museum come to life! Many museums have been experimenting with hosting fun sleepovers in their galleries, including New York City’s own Rubin Museum of Art.

We talked to Dawn Eshelman, Head of Performing Arts for the Rubin, ahead of the museum’s first Dream Over experience, where guests were invited to spend a fun, enchanting evening sleeping alongside the art.

The Rubin had such a great time hosting their first Dream Over that they’ve decided to do it again. Tickets for the Saturday, October 15 Dream Over go on sale September 13th at 11am. 

Read on to learn more about the Dream Over!

Photo Credit: Rubin Museum of Art.
Photo Credit: Rubin Museum of Art.

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Creating Enduring Experiences through Storytelling: Interview with Local Projects

Local Projects is a media design firm that focuses on creating enduring projects through storytelling.  They utilize collaborative storytelling, technology, and a visitor-first strategy to transform museums and public spaces.

We asked Nathan Adkisson, Director of Strategy at Local Projects, to talk with us about their work.  His insights shed light into how museums can leverage storytelling and technology to create truly visitor-centered experiences that enable deep engagement with objects and each other.  

Nathan Adkisson
Nathan Adkisson of Local Projects.

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The Making of a Modern Museum: How Heather Whitely Robertson is bringing 21st Century Audience Engagement to Sydney Modern

What’s it like to be at the forefront of the museum of the future? 

Heather Whitely Robertson would know.  She’s an audience engagement expert, currently Head of Learning & Participation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  Heather has worked with a variety of museums and institutions around the world, transforming them into spaces of 21st-century learning and cultural leadership.  We sat down with Heather to discuss her principles of audience engagement and how her latest project will transform the New South Wales cultural scene.

Sydney Modern design concept (SANAA) for Art Gallery of New South Wales. Image courtesy Art Gallery of NSW.
Sydney Modern design concept (SANAA) for Art Gallery of New South Wales. Image courtesy Art Gallery of NSW.

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How to Create Compelling Museum Experiences: Frith Williams on Accessibility, Innovation, and Storytelling

Museums are places where we learn about our past and imagine our future possibilities.  Yet many museums struggle with finding ways to not only connect to visitors, but to inspire them.

At Museum Hack, we know that storytelling is a key to overcoming this challenge.  There are many ways that museums can tell better stories – and not just during tours. 

We recently spoke with Frith Williams, Head of Writing at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.  She spends her days focused on how to create innovative narrative experiences that inspire audiences to love and learn from museums.  Frith shared with us why writing and storytelling are vital to museums, and gave us some unique insights into how museums in New Zealand compare to those in the United States.

Frith Williams, Head of Writing at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Frith Williams, Head of Writing at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

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Leveraging Business and Analytics for Successful Audience Engagement: Interview with Musical Instrument Museum

We recently visited museums in Arizona, including the incredible Musical Instrument Museum.  While there, we were amazed to see how the museum has used tactics from the business world to very quickly become the TripAdvisor Top 1 Museum in Arizona and among the Top 20 museums in the United States.  We also learned that their membership program has already garnered over 1,000 signups — all because their community perceives them to be of great value.

We asked Brian Dredla, Director of Education and Public Programs at Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), to talk with us about their huge success.  His insights shed light on how museums can use business world practices, a continuous improvement focus, and data analytics to increase their museum’s ratings and become accessible, engaging experiences for a wide range of visitors.

Musical Instrument Museum sign

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Night at the Museum, Part 2: Living Aboard the USS Hornet

Ever since we saw Night at the Museum, we’ve dreamt of being able to spend a night in our favorite museums.  And now, we can!  Many museums are experimenting with holding fun sleepovers in their spaces. 

We’re taking an in-depth look at these innovative museum experiences.  Our 3-part series features interviews with museums holding awesome sleepovers.  We discuss what each sleepovers include, how visitors are responding, and best practices for museums who want to develop this experience.

Our second interview features Chris Miller, Live-Aboard Program Director for the USS Hornet Museum. During their Family Live-Aboard Experience, visitors spend an entire night on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.  They experience life aboard a floating city during World War II, exploring everything from the Captain’s bridge to the engine room.  Along the way, they discover the incredible stories of those who lived on board and some of its most famous passengers — including the first men to walk on the moon!

USS Hornet in port

Read on to find out how the USS Hornet developed their sleepover program, and Chris’s advice for starting your own.

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Engaging Young Professionals: An Inside Look at Society 1858

A key challenge facing museums is drawing in younger audiences — especially Millennials.  One segment of this audience that can significantly benefit museums are Young Professionals, who are poised to be the next generation of museum members.

The Gibbes Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, has embraced this challenge.  They found success with Society 1858, a young professionals group that has revitalized the museum’s reputation.  This group creates fun and unique education events with local artists, collectors, and gallerists within the museum.  They also throw an over-the-top winter fundraiser each year to support the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art which is a cash prize that’s awarded annually to an artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South.  

Society 1858 event at home of Richard Hagerty
Society 1858 members at the home of surrealist Richard Hagerty.

We talked with Lasley Steever, Director of Public Programs and Events at the Gibbes Museum, about this awesome young professionals program.  Her insights showed us that by stepping outside the box and bringing in millennials as advisors, museums can reinvigorate their programs and spaces with new life, bring in much-needed potential sponsors, and have lots of fun in the process!

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LOVE: Adam Rozan and Museums’ Ultimate Obligation To Their Visitors

We are so pleased that Adam Rozan, one of Museum Hack’s favorite museum professionals, spoke with us about a new and innovative course that he is teaching in the Museum Studies program at Harvard University’s Extension School.  Adam is currently the Director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum.

Adam Rozan leading his students outside the Worcester Art Museum

MH: Adam, your course sounds really interesting! Let’s start with the title.  Can you tell our readers a bit about the premise you had in mind when you conceived it?

AR: The title of the course is: Audience Engagement: How Museums Learned to Love their Visitors.  It was meant to be aspirational. I can’t imagine another course at Harvard that has the word “love” in the title!

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Night at the Museum, Part 1: Penguins & Pajamas

Ever since we saw Night at the Museum, we’ve dreamt of being able to spend a night in our favorite museums.  And now, we can!  Many museums are experimenting with holding fun sleepovers in their spaces.  

We’re taking an in-depth look at these innovative museum experiences.  Our 3-part series features interviews with museums holding awesome sleepovers.  We discuss what their sleepovers include, how visitors are responding, and best practices for museums who want to develop this experience.

Our first interview features Brendan Papciak, Specialty Tours and Sleepover Manager at the California Academy of Sciences.  During their Penguins & Pajamas experience, visitors spend the night exploring the museum after-hours, with special programs just for them, before falling asleep next to some of the Academy’s resident animals.

Read on to find out how the Academy developed their sleepover program, and Brendan’s advice for starting your own.

Children watching fish at night in the California Academy of Sciences
What do fish do at night?

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Discussing Audience Engagement at NEMA 2015

In early November 2015, Ethan and Kate attended the New England Museum Association conference on “The Language of Museums.” Ethan and Kate gave a talk about what we do at Museum Hack, demonstrated our audience engagement techniques, and discussed how to attract and engage Millennial audiences in museum spaces.

They also attended lots of great sessions, networked with awesome museum professionals, and even got a taste of Portland.  We interviewed Ethan and Kate about how it went and their favorite parts of the NEMA conference.  Read below to find out more.

NEMA 2015 Museum Hack presentation room

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